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  • Nov 28, 2014
  • Updated: 11:16am
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PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 January, 2013, 4:08am

Manchester United favourites but Suarez capable of upsetting Fergie

Premier League's top two goalscorers will decide outcome; Manchester City to edge Arsenal

BIO

Nick has been SCMP’s tipster since soccer betting was launched in Hong Kong in 2003, having previously served as racing editor. He takes a statistical approach to soccer betting, focusing mainly on the English Premier League but also on the other major European leagues and the English lower divisions. Now based in England, he brings a wealth of experience as a punter and writer having also worked for the Sunday Times, Racing Post and Betfair during a 25-year career in sports betting journalism.
 

It's all about tomorrow as the English Premier League resumes with a Super Sunday blockbuster packed with star names and plot lines.

Manchester United v Liverpool might also be billed as Robin van Persie v Luis Suarez, the top two scorers in the Premier League. Such is their influence on results that their respective performances at Old Trafford tomorrow could well make the difference in deciding the outcome.

Van Persie's scoring ratio for both United and Arsenal gives him a claim as the best striker in Premier League history. Overall numbers suggest Alan Shearer, Andy Cole and Thierry Henry were better, but Van Persie's strike rate is superb and his numbers would be much higher if he had stayed injury-free.

Predictably he has thrived with United, who are a better team than Arsenal and have an attacking outlook that has been even more emphasised this season owing to their problems at the back. "Attack is the best form of defence" has been United's motto by necessity and in Van Persie they have had the ideal man to apply the finishing touches.

He has scored in 13 of his 19 Premier League appearances in which he has played for at least a third of the match, as well as making a significant impact off the bench - most notably by snatching a draw for United in last weekend's FA Cup tie at West Ham.

Suarez arrives with a hatful of goals this season - 15 in the Premier League, only one fewer than Van Persie - as well as plenty of baggage from previous clashes with United. In general, he has let his outstanding play do the talking this season, although the bad boy image will never be far away judging by the furore over his handball goal in last weekend's FA Cup tie at Mansfield.

Last season's tally of 11 goals did scant justice to Suarez's talent and the threat he posed (he hit the woodwork eight times - a figure exceeded, remarkably, by Van Persie's 10). The impression was that Suarez was unlucky - players and teams that get into goalscoring positions more often than others usually do better than both Liverpool and their star striker managed last season.

For Suarez at least, this season has been a different story. His shot conversion rate is 12.2 per cent - much better than last season's 8.6 per cent and in line with his consistent double-figure percentages for Ajax.

The problem is that Liverpool, despite some promising signs under Brendan Rodgers, have yet to mirror that improvement as a team. Suarez has carried them this season, scoring 44 per cent of their Premier League goals (compared with Van Persie's 30 per cent for United), and there are serious flaws in their overall form.

While Suarez has shown he can score against high-class opposition (Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton), Liverpool have yet to beat a team from the top half of the Premier League in 10 attempts.

Suarez could win the game for Liverpool, but no more so than Van Persie for United and the league leaders have more overall quality. A United victory is expected, which would stretch their winning run over Liverpool at Old Trafford to five. The odds on a United win aren't too bad.

There will be barely enough time for fans to catch their breath after the United-Liverpool match before Arsenal v Manchester City kick off in the second act of the double-header.

The betting is close but City - beaten only once in 13 Premier League away games since losing 1-0 to a late goal on their last visit to the Emirates in April - deserve to be favourites on the handicap. Roberto Mancini's side have the ability to win (eight victories in those last 13 away games) and, crucially for handicap backers, are well equipped to avoid defeat.

Today's Premier League programme is not without interest, especially in the early game at Loftus Road where Harry Redknapp pits his QPR side against his former club Tottenham.

QPR have lost only three out of nine against Premier League opposition under Redknapp and won at Chelsea in their last league game, but Tottenham look a good bet.

It is significant that Tottenham are the only team to have scored in every away game this season.

Other bets to consider include a Fulham home win over Wigan and West Brom on the handicap at Reading.

 

BEST BETS

1 Tottenham away win Highly effective on the road under Andre Villas-Boas

2 Manchester City on handicap Solid bet with a good chance of victory

3 Crystal Palace on handicap Only two defeats in 13 games under Ian Holloway

4 Hull home win Should beat low-scoring Sheffield Wednesday

5 Getafe home win Visitors Granada have lost 10 out of 13 against teams outside the bottom six

 

SHORTLIST

Tottenham, Manchester City, Leicester, Crystal Palace, Blackpool, Nottingham Forest, Hull, Doncaster, Getafe, Torino.

 

FIXTURES

TODAY (11pm unless stated)

Queens Park Rangers v Tottenham Hotspur (8.45pm), Reading v West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland v West Ham United, Stoke City v Chelsea, Norwich City v Newcastle United, Fulham v Wigan Athletic, Everton v Swansea City, Aston Villa v Southampton

TOMORROW

Manchester United v Liverpool (9.30pm), Arsenal v Manchester City (12am Mon)

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